James Kim became a pharmacist because of basketball. Well, sort of. He met his childhood best friend through basketball. And his childhood best friend’s dad happened to be a pharmacist. After school, James and his friend would go hang out at the pharmacy, eating chips and drinking soda. He remembered seeing how much his friend’s dad would make his patients laugh while helping them, and he thought: “I want to do that.”
However, after getting his doctoral degree from the University of the Pacific in 1998, James worked at Walgreens pharmacy. And there, his pharmacy experience was very different than he imagined.
“I was very unhappy with my job and the company’s ethics. I remember watching people walk away, crying because they couldn’t afford the meds they needed.”
Specifically, there was one patient James never forgot. She struggled with migraines, and she’d be crying as she waited in line because the pain was so bad, only to arrive at the counter to find out her copay had become higher. Again. The insurance company was charging her $60 for one tablet. She was forced to start traveling abroad to get her meds, even asking friends vacationing in Mexico to bring pills back for her.
Her story was not unique. Multiple times, James pulled out his credit card and paid for his patients’ meds with his own money because patients simply couldn’t afford the crazy high copays insurance companies and other middlemen charged.
For 21 years, James felt this growing sense of unease and unhappiness with his job. He became a pharmacist because he was inspired by the close relationship his friend’s dad had with patients. He couldn’t bear to be a part of a company that prioritized profits over patients anymore.
In April of 2018, James found Honeybee. Or rather, Honeybee found him. At a Jiu Jitsu class, of all places. James was a purple belt, and one day the teacher assigned him to teach one of the class’s newcomers, John. John’s wife happened to be one of Honeybee’s founders, Dr. Jessica Nouhavandi. He told James about this new pharmacy his wife had just started.
For James, Honeybee reminded him of why he became a pharmacist in the first place: to help people. Now, as a Honeybee pharmacist, James makes patients laugh all the time. Sometimes, he laughs so loudly, we have to shush him so that we can hear other customers on the phone.
When James isn’t working with Honeybee patients, he practices Jiu Jitsu like the action movie hero he is. He also has two kids, Caden and Kiley, and now the whole family does martial arts together.
While he is working and filling prescriptions, James likes to listen to the Foo Fighters, Nine Inch Nails, Tool, Rage Against the Machine, and Deaftones. You know, appropriate music for a revolutionary pharmacist fighting back against a corrupt healthcare system.
Between the care he gives to each patient and his purple belt in Jiu Jitsu, James is basically a superhero pharmacist. Here at Honeybee, we’re lucky to have him.
If you ever have any questions about your meds, health, or even life in general, you can contact Honeybee at (310)-559–5903. (P.S. Ask Pharmacist James for his carne asada taco recipe.)